It’s official: atheists can conscientiously object

Divided Under God on the reversal in the Margaret Doughty case.

On Friday June 14th, we broke the story of Margaret Doughty, a 64-year old atheist from the UK who was told by the USCIS that in order to gain conscientious objector status, she would need to provide evidence of a religious reason for her objection “on official church stationery, attesting to the fact that [she is] a member in good standing and the church’s official position on the bearing of arms.”  This was a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, as pointed out in a similar Supreme Court Case, Welsh v. United States.

The story hit the national stage, featured in articles on CNN, Huffington Post, Raw Story,, and many others. Ms. Doughty’s case was brought to the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who wrote a letter to the USCIS on her behalf, as well as the American Humanist Association, who did the same.  Ms. Doughty’s local Congressman, Blake Farenthold, also got involved, helping to get her case escalated to the highest levels of the USCIS for review.

Today, she received an email from the congressional office with the following message from the USCIS included:

“This Service hereby withdraws the request for evidence (RFE) issued on June 7, 2013.  This Service accepts your detailed statement in satisfaction of the information requested by the RFE.  Your application for naturalization has been approved.”

Solidarity forever, eh?

More coverage –

The American Humanist Association

The Huffington Post


The BBC (via YouTube)


  1. AMM says

    I thought this was settled law. It was the basis of my 1-O status back when I was of draft age (Vietnam War era.)

    US v. Seeger (1965)

    Was the INS just stupid, or did they think that this legal principle didn’t apply to immigration law?

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